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Tropical Bliss in Culebra

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Four hours later, on the ferry sailing painfully slow through the open waters, I saw the lush green island approaching us, brimming with hearty vegetation and lined with white sandy beaches. After docking, I was bombarded by taxi drivers all fighting to take tourists to various places on the island. I snagged a driver, paid the $3.00 fare and jumped into the van. We zoomed by the quaint little town on the dock, decorated with small, square, tropically pink, blue, yellow, and green colored buildings. Other tourists were inching along in rented golf carts, which is all you really need on such a miniscule island.

Five minutes later, we rolled up to a sandy parking lot. Two wood huts stood adjacent to the lot, serving as bars that sold burgers, fries, and drinks. I disregarded the wood huts and walked in the direction of the water. I could hear the waves hitting the land, smell the salt in the air, and already feel the spray on my cheeks. Finally I had arrived at what the Discovery Channel named as the second most beautiful beach in the world - Flamenco beach.

It was 10:00 AM, but already the beach was filling up with tourists, lying lazily in lawn chairs under their rented umbrellas - the sun was much too hot to sit under directly, and only those just wishing for sun burns would lie out without shade. Ever money conscious, I choose the free option of setting up camp under a nearby palm tree. From there, I had a 180 degree view of the clear blue water, a mile of white sand, and the small dots of green, pink, and yellow umbrellas housing tourists peppered about the beach.

Sweat poured down my face after I sat down on my beach towel; I had to get in the water before I had a heat stroke. I ran tipped toed not so gracefully down the beach towards the water, the sand scalding my feet with each step. "Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot!" I said under my breath, hurrying to reach the waves. I dunked my feet in as soon as I reached the water's edge.

The water was the clearest, brightest blue color I'd ever seen at a beach, the shade of blue Gatorade. I wanted to drink it right up, as I was also really thirsty. My desire quite quickly disappeared though, as I entered the water and a large, powerful wave slammed against me and knocked me down, washing me back ashore. I had underestimated the strengths of the waves. I swallowed a good amount of the water that I had been thinking about drinking only moments before and realized it really didn't taste as good as it looked. Coughing and sputtering, I straightened myself out and tried to get into the water again, only to be hit a second time by a huge wave. This time was worse - the water sucked me in, rolling me up into a big ball under the surface and banging my head against the sand two times as I did underwater somersaults. At that point, I called it good - the water and I just weren't going to get along at that point.

But later in the day, I eventually figured out how to get past the rough wave break. I swam out to the deep water, bobbing up and down as the waves rolled by and watching the tropical yellow, blue, and red fish that swam around my feet, nipping at my skin. It was like swimming in a bath, a really deep bath with lots of fish. It was heaven.

Hours later, I sat on the rooftop deck of my square, white, little hostel high up on a hill. I stretched out my legs and swatted away hungry mosquitoes, exhausted from a day full of swimming and adventure. Watching the sun go down over the sprawling ocean in front of me, I realized I was in utter tropical bliss.

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